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Monday, August 20, 2012

My Review of Political Animals Episode 6 (Finale)- Resignation Day

The time has arrived. Elaine submits her resignation with a surprising result, there is a massive twist in the middle that I never saw coming, Doug's duplicity is revealed, and Susan gets sucker punched by Georgia....

Wow, that twist in the middle was seriously unexpected. I am going to focus on that and get to the rest later.

About halfway through the episode, we found out that Air Force One crashed on its way to France and all aboard were presumed to have been killed. When they said in the previews that there was an accident, I assumed it was Doug or TJ in the accident. I was so not expecting Garcetti to have been (presumably) killed. That is where things get interesting. I want to explain the terms being tossed around last night, so here we go.

Under the Constitution, all executive power is vested in the President of the United States. Under Article II, Section 1, Clause 6, if the president is unable to discharge the powers of his office due to disability, death, or resignation, the Vice President assumes the President's powers until a new election (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_Two_of_the_United_States_Constitution#Clause_6:_Vacancy_and_disability). That is what the Vice-President wanted to do last night. Given the (perfectly valid) assumption that the President had been killed in the plane crash, he wanted to assume the office (under the Tyler Precedent, see link above) of the President. What Elaine and the Chief of Staff were arguing for was a slightly different route where the Vice President would invoke the 25th Amendment (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty-fifth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution). This amendment was put in place in in 1967 for a variety of reasons. First, it was to codify the Tyler Precedent that the Vice President would become the President and not acting President. In other words, the Vice President could assume the office and not just the powers. Second, under the Constitution, there were no provisions for replacing the Vice President. Under the 25th Amendment, the President can voluntarily relinquish his powers temporarily if needed and then reclaim them (Section 3). Under Section 4 (which was discussed last night), if the President is unable to discharge his powers but cannot (or will not) relinquish them, the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet can sign a letter certifying that the President cannot discharge his powers and then the Vice President would become acting President. This is the route that Elaine was urging be taken. Under this route, the President can reclaim his powers under certain conditions. Therefore, if Gercetti somehow survived the crash and came back, he would merely have to certify to Congress that he could discharge his powers properly and then he could reclaim his office. On the other hand, if the VP had taken the oath, you would have two presidents and therefore a Constitutional crisis. By assuming the powers, the VP would act as President and when (if) the President's body is found, then the VP can take on the office completely.
 
I have to say that I was glad the VP took their good advice. Whatever counsel gave the VP the advice to assume the office via the oath should be immediately fired because that was awful advice. Here's why. There is (as hinted above) a distinction between the powers of an office and the office itself. Powers of an office can be shared. Perfect example: the Cabinet system. The President and Congress have decided to create these offices and invested them with some executive authority. Similarly, President Obama has more recently done something similar by creating "czars" of certain policy areas. Power shared can also be taken away if needed. On the other hand, an office cannot be shared and it is harder to strip someone of an office. So, by assuming the powers and becoming acting President, the VP took on the powers while leaving the office vacant until a body is found. I suspect that what actually happened is that the VP wanted to assume the office and his counsel agreed to it because he works for the VP.
 
The presumed death of Garcetti has thrown a major kink into Elaine's plans. She had planned on accepting Garcetti's offer to come on his ticket as VP, but now she seems to be leaning towards running again. Not that I blame her. I think that maybe she and Garcetti would have made an excellent team and it would have been best for her family. However, the VP is unscrupulous and unprincipled. Using TJs affair to round up that vote was (as I've said before) totally underhanded. If the show comes back (which I want iff the cast returns), I so want to see her run against the VP.
 
Which gets us to the letter. Elaine wrote the resignation letter and then gave it to Garcetti, citing recent actions as her reasons for resigning. As mentioned above, he asked her to become his VP. She never formally accepted, but she was going to. Unfortunately, Doug gave a copy of the letter to Susan who promised not to print it. But she decided to share the letter with Georgia (the blogger) who insisted on running the letter immediately. I am definitely siding with Susan on this one for a couple of reasons. First off, it would have totally burned a source and made it harder for her to get a source in the future. Second, it hadn't been made official yet, so if there had been a retraction, it would have caused more issues. I like this division between more old-fashioned investigative journalism and blogging. Sorry bloggers, you ain't reporters. Part of being a reporter is taking the time to get the *FACTS* and make sure all the little ducks are in a row. Immediately posting something without verification of some sort is a bad idea. And then the fact that Georgia went to her boyfriend and then over his head claiming that he slept with her to kill her stories was just over the top. I so want to see her taken down to the gossip level. If she wants to be a reporter and be taken seriously, then she needs to drop her stupid little shortcuts.
 
As for Doug, I'm glad he and Elaine had it out last night. He needed to say all of those things he had been burying. He needed to come clean about what he had been doing and why, so I am really glad that he did. I also loved his conversation with TJ. That was a really nice brotherly moment. And the wedding at the end was really sweet too.
 
I also loved watching TJ and Margaret have their little spat. I loved that he can talk with her about things and they can be frank with each other without being hurtful.
 
Well, here's hoping for another season!